Historically, both summer steelhead and spring Chinook salmon migrated to their spawning grounds in the upper Deschutes, Metolius and Crooked Rivers. Although Pelton Round Butte was constructed with fish-passage facilities, the downstream system failed.
New fish pasage system completed
PGE and the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs have completed a new fish passage system that will allow salmon and steelhead to migrate past three Deschutes River three dams for the first time since 1968. For the full story, explore DeschutesPassage.com, a PGE Web site dedicated to this project.
The downstream fish passage problem was created in large part by the currents in Lake Billy Chinook (PDF) that confused juvenile salmon and steelhead seeking downstream migration. To address the problem, PGE and the Tribes built a 273-foot underwater tower that rises from the lake bottom. The tower alters the current (PDF), attracting migrating fish.
Fish are screened at the intake and trucked downstream of the dams for release on their journey to the Pacific. The facility also allows PGE to better mimic pre-project temperatures in the Deschutes River.
These improvements will potentially reopen a new fish passage area of 226 stream miles to salmon and steelhead migration.